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JAMES WHITE

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Canadian-American filmmaker James H. White was one of the pioneers of early cinema, the man who filmed the famous short The Kiss (1896). Born in the Canadian Maritime province of Nova Scotia in 1872, he was a 22-year-old gramophone salesman when he went to work at a kinetescope operation in Boston in 1894. The film-viewing parlor was run by brothers Andrew M. and George C. Holland, entrepreneurs to whom Thomas A. Edison leased the commercial rights to exploit his invention. Though not a true motion picture projector, Edison's kinetoscope ran a strip of perforated film encased in a cabinet over a light source, which was viewed by a single individual through a viewing screen by means of a shutter. White and fellow Holland employee Charles Webster toured cities in the US with kinetoscopes, but White went back to peddling gramophones when the popularity of the kinetoscope declined as its novelty wore off. Then came the Vitascope, a 35mm film projector developed by Thomas Armat and C. Francis Jenkins to which Edison bought the rights in 1896. Film exhibition in a theater was now a reality. While still employed by the Holland Bros.' Kinetoscope Co. partners Norman Raff and Frank Gammon, White took a position with Edison and became a producer of films for the Vitascope as well as serving as a projectionist. Edison terminated his business relationship with Raff and Gammon at the end of 1896, but White remained with him as head of the Kinetograph department. He and cameraman William Heise produced the Vitascope films before he took off for a foreign trip with cameraman W. Bleckyrden, an Englishman, to film the Orient. They filmed their journey west across America, sailing to Hawaii and then on to Japan and China. By the time White had returned to the US in May 1898, he was very ill, which prevented him from filming the Spanish-American War. When he recovered he began making films again, and traveled to France in 1900 to film the Paris Exposition. In November of that year he hired Edwin S. Porter to make fiction films while White made "actualities" and newsreels. He was in Buffalo, NY, in September 1901 filming the Pan-American Exposition when President William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on September 5. After making one more actuality in 1902, White retired from filmmaking, though he did make a short film in England in 1910, A Yorkshire School (1910). White moved to London in 1903 to oversee Edison's movie and phonograph businesses. After becoming the National Phonograph Co.'s managing director in 1904, most of his time was devoted to the music industry.  See full bio on IMDb »

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